Thinking of something different from Gothic cathedrals and sand beaches this year? Keen on exploring rich ancient culture and marveling mountainous landscapes? If yes, then you should include Armenia in your “2015 must-go list”. Right in the middle of Europe-Asia crossroad and blending both cultures, this landlocked country offers myriads of tourist attractions you won’t find in any other country. So, here’s why you should consider Armenia as your next destination.
Armenia boasts ancient and Medieval culture. From the Greco-Roman colonnaded Temple of Garni (the only survived pagan temple in the country) to khachkars (“cross-stones”), unique pieces of medieval Armenian architecture (which are included in the UNESCO list of Intangible Heritage) and late Christian cathedrals. Actually, historical and cultural sightseeing in Armenia is mostly “church-seeing”: as the country “oozes” abundant variety of churches and cathedrals which, however, is never boring – no single architectural masterpiece here duplicates the other one.
Once you step on this magic land, you can’t help but wonder how diverse the Armenian landscape is: fast-flowing rivers, lush forests in Dilijan in the north, four-peaked Mount Aragats in the central part and back to untrodden woods and hills in Zangezur region in the south. Tired of mountain climbing and hiking? Then head for the beautiful Lake of Sevan, have a swim (if it’s July or August) or just meditate on its azure waters.
Whether a vegetarian or a meat-lover, here you can find any delicious meal to indulge your stomach. Armenia abounds sweetest eco-fruits and vegetables almost all year round, and low-calorie national flatbread “lavash” was included in UNESCO Intangible Heritage List last year. Also, don’t forget to sample famous Armenian brandy (the favorite brandy of Winston Churchill, by the way) and perhaps, grab a bottle or two to your home country as a souvenir.
If you’re on a tight travel budget, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that you can eat and stay in Armenia almost twice cheaper than in Europe or U.S. Caveat: of course, here you can fall into a so-called “tourist trap”, too, like anywhere else in the world. So, before booking your tickets and hotel, consult with a tourist guide or look through reviews on tourism platforms.
Armenian hospitality is just arresting. “A guest is the God’s gift”, an old adage runs, and Armenians fully act on it. So, even if you happen to get lost on your route, all you need to do is to turn for help and you will in some cases be even brought to your desired destination by an amiable local. Perhaps, this is why many keen travelers claim Armenia is perfect for hitch-hiking.
The first fact you’ll hear from locals once you’re in the Armenian capital is that Yerevan is older than Rome. Perhaps, you may feel skeptical about it while strolling about the streets of Yerevan and finding no traces of history in multi-storey modern buildings. To dispel your doubts, just visit Erebuni Historical and Archeological Museum-Reserve and learn about almost 3000-year history of this fascinating city. Yerevan is also a prominent cultural hub in the region with its modern museums, galleries, concert halls and jazz clubs.
And finally, even if your scarce time and money resources are scarce and you have to be picky about your routes, Tatev Monastery and Wings of Tatev aerial tramway should be your top “must-experience” and “must-see” in Armenia. First of all, you will experience the uninterrupted 5km aerial travel on the world’s longest railway to marvel magnificent scenery opening below. And secondly, at the end of your railway experience, you’ll see the gem of medieval Armenian architecture, the Tatev Monastery. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? All you have to do is to book your railway ticket beforehand and head for south Armenia.
Of course, Armenia has many other perks for tourists, which are impossible to cover within a single blog post, though. Follow our Travel Blog regularly, discover more tourist attractions in this amazing country and share your experiences in the comment section.
Author: Sirvard Amatuni